Letters to the editor, January 13, 2016

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 January, 2016, 2:33pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 January, 2016, 2:33pm

Use dividend tax to fund state pension

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah rightfully pointed out in his blog that sustainability is key for a universal pension scheme (“‘Sustainability the key’ to retirement protection scheme”, January 11). Raising salary and/or corporate taxes are possibilities.

However, one option that should also be on the table is to introduce a dividend and/or capital gains tax. In most developed countries and also in mainland China, dividend taxes ranging between 15 per cent and 35 per cent are the norm.

The Hong Kong government must seriously consider introducing a dividend or even capital gains tax. Such taxes would be far more equitable rather than putting even more pressure on working middle classes with higher salary tax rates.

Kristiaan Helsen, Sai Kung

US swagger unwarranted in Asian seas

Mark Valencia hit the nail on the head when he referred to the “muddled USS Lassen probe and perhaps the more recent B-52 aircraft overflight” (“Beijing likely to set its own course in South China Sea dispute with Philippines”, January 5). This is worrying – the modern world’s only superpower playing the gun-slinging sheriff of the Wild West days without even having ratified, and therefore not having understood, the international law it is trying to enforce.

It is taking sides with one of its protégés, the Philippines, which is challenging China’s claim of the South China Sea islands with reference to China’s “nine-dash line”, at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague. The court has acknowledged its jurisdiction to hear the Philippines’ case.

The court’s ruling will not be binding on China unless it agreed before the start of arbitration to be a party to it.

The nine-dash line was not even indicated as a national boundary in China’s 2009 reminder to the United Nations of the return of the South China Sea island groups by Japan in 1946, pursuant to the 1943 Cairo Declaration. It was an indication of the general area encompassing those island groups.

America’s repeated urging of China to stop the reclamation works, even on the day of the trial landings by two Chinese Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 airliners on Fiery Cross, is perplexing in light of Japan’s much earlier reclamation work to turn into islands the Okinotori reefs 1,800km from Tokyo.

Peter Lok, Chai Wan

Airline did little to smooth over flight delay

On January 2, the China Airlines Flight 54 from Auckland to Taipei, transporting 450 passengers, including 25 bound for Hong Kong, did not take off after its stopover in Brisbane. A motor malfunction was responsible. Passengers were asked to disembark, and told that China Airlines ground staff would take care of them. Only it was not so.

In Brisbane, airport staff directed passengers to a hotel, but China Airlines staff remained invisible. The next morning, China Airlines was unreachable by phone call or in person. The morning passed and with it two flights run by Qantas and Cathay Pacific that could have transported the abandoned passengers.

China Airlines staff reappeared in the afternoon. They repeatedly refused to put passengers on other flights, and said they wouldn’t give passengers their luggage back. At that point, China Airlines had in effect taken its passengers hostage.

When Flight 54 finally took off with a 17-hour delay, passengers asking about their connecting flights were told “ground staff are working on the problem”. Only it was not so.

On arrival in Taipei, transit passengers found out that all connecting flights were gone. After another wait in line, transit passengers were put on several late flights the next morning, according to a schedule that only fitted China Airlines. Another short night in a derelict hotel was provided. The next-day flights brought the 25 passengers due to Hong Kong at their final destination with a 27-hour delay.

We want to ask China Airlines if it’s the way it intends to treat passengers in 2016. Does China Airlines have the right to take its passengers hostage and deny them their luggage back? When facing a technical problem, shouldn’t China Airlines try to get its passengers to their destination the quickest way possible, instead of forcing them to use their plane, no matter the delay, and under conditions decided solely by the company?

Lucas Schifres, for a group of 21 passengers

Don’t let social media dictate our lives

There’s a good reason to quit Facebook and other social media, and it isn’t because of privacy issues or worries that our information would be improperly sold, although these are also legitimate reasons.

The reason is many of us now view life through the lens of our smartphone, and we’re constantly reporting our lives rather than living them. We share what happens in our daily life through social media such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. This has ruined our ability to be present and live in the moment. We begin to see the world in terms of what would make a great status update.

At the same time, we spend a lot of time on Facebook reading other people’s posts, so much so that we miss out on the vast majority of life going on around us.

Facebook and other social media suck us in and leave us with less time for other important things in life. Checking the latest on Facebook for a minute sometimes turns into half an hour of scrolling the pages and checking out links and videos. How many times have we had to force ourselves to stop refreshing the newsfeed?

This can grow into an addiction, and cause problems in our personal life, family relationships and school. We will develop poor impulse control.

We must find hobbies that get us away from the computer and the smartphone. We should set a limit for the use of such devices.

There are many things we could do instead. For example, we could spend more time with friends and family and do more exercise.

Vanessa Sze, Kowloon Tong